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Steve Hahn: sh (CD, 48:05); DeeP Chocolate Productions DCP980502 Landmark Chapman Stick work fills this release! Interesting, imaginative, introspective, engaging, and expertly crafted compositions are each executed with T. Levin, A. Johnson, G. Howard, and W. Leechford precision. The solo Stick can be and often becomes predictably repetitive and redundantly voiced, very quickly, if the Stickman isn't careful. It has wonderfully endless possibilities though in the right hands with the right vision. Hahn keeps you guessing and delighted with multifaceted Stick tricks. He can be a Michael Hedges or Will Ackerman one song, "The Swans At Coole", and then a King Crimson Levin and Frippesque manic man on the next, "Ostinato". Even a crystal clear Stanley Jordan styling appears on "Suite Vignette". Hendrix would have enjoyed Hahn's overdriven, distortion-rich "Suite Intro". This was my favorite composition. It was a 5:12 mini- journey to another dimension. The signature piece however is Hahn's six movement work, "Suite", which showcases his versatility. Hahn dubs in his fine trumpet skills as well on many tracks emulating that Mark Isham genius. He plays bass and guitar too. Matt Houston does great drums and percussion accentuating the highly percussive Stick sound. Aurally construct a Windham Hill release in your mind, say Isham's Vapor Drawings, augment it with, invigorate it with Hahn's Stick work. You have that perfect rainy-day, capuccino-in-tummy, laid-back, drivin' or dreamin' creation spinnin' 'round now. "Hey listen -- there's a rainbow inside." Excellent recording and production makes this sh . . . Recommended.
~ John W. Patterson
Steve Hahn: Stickburst (CD, 53:25); DeeP Chocolate Productions SR930301 Excellent jazzy Stick work here! Hahn surely pulls off that Chapman, Levin, Johnson, Howard, and Leechford precision. On this release, as on his sh release, Hahn keeps things lively and hopping with endless Stick finesse. You can hear Michael Hedges, Stanley Jordan, or Will Ackerman in his songs. Listen for Levin and Frippy moments. As on sh, Hahn dubs in his fine Mark Ishamic trumpet skills. Ernie Crews helps out on drums and percussion. Hahn tackles The Beatles' "Norwegian Wood", Gershwin's "Summertime", and even Weather Report's "Birdland" and "In a Silent Way". He nails 'em so deftly and nicely. You Gentle Giant fans will get off on his renditions of "Raconteur Troubador/Acquiring the Taste" and "Spooky Boogie". Hahn's originals like "Big Heavy Critter" are very strong and call to mind Levin meets Isham and "65 Years in the Business" is simply bliss-ville. Hahn winds things up with another original, "Funk Potpourri" that is excellent! I swear it was like Alex De Grassi doing Happy The Man! Strongly recommended. Let Hahn Stick it to ya. ~ John W. Patterson
Steve Hahn: Native American Music Meets The Chapman Stick (CD, 43:50); DeeP Chocolate Productions DCP980501 Hahn plays Stick, DCP bass drum, (his own invention), and Native American drum. Matt Houston plays eleven various eclectic percussion items. On this recording Hahn has religiously followed the very structure of Amer-Indian song. As best as human possibly he translates the soul of this music into Stick. It makes for a different listening experience. Hahn and Houston cover nine songs. Frankly, I didn’t really get into this CD until the third song, “Song to Stop the Rain/”Pelican” Song” (medley), a Yurok/Tolowa source. Again I languished for several songs awaiting something stimulating. Around track seven, on “Rabbit Song”/”Love Song” (medley), another Yurok creation, I found something to groove to again. I suppose I really dig Yurok. I’m gonna have to look into this tribe’s music someday. Yuroks seemed to know how to skirt that certain inherent redundancy found in many Amer-Indian song structures. Don’t get me wrong here but I just don’t do the simplicity and repetition of such tribal songs. They make for interesting musical study and execution but for the average listener -- not all that enjoyable. The last piece, “Two-Step”, a Navajo item, was the only other track that intrigued me and took me places in its unique cyclical patterns. It was very Amer-Indian but had a certain boogie- hop jazziness to it, in Hahn’s interpretation. I feel most folk will find this CD . . . ah, well . . . for Stick and Native American Indian music completists. Hahn is a great Stick player but the source material is so predictable it just doesn’t translate into aural interest. ~ John W. Patterson
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